June 11 was National Seersucker Day, and while that may sound like a publicity stunt by Haspel, it actually has nearly 20 years of government support – however intermittent. It was started by Mississippi Senator Trent Lott in 1996 and ran until 2012. Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana brought it back for 2014, and this year, Cassidy—a Republican—will host an informal Congressional gathering of pols in seersucker with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California.
“Seersucker is more than fabric—it’s a symbol of American made products that create manufacturing, shipping and sales jobs across the country,” said Sen. Cassidy. “It is also the melding of fashion with comfort. Seersucker was invented in Louisiana but now belongs to all Americans. I am proud to further a Congressional tradition.”
Sen. Feinstein has been a longtime seersucker enthusiast. In 2004, she organized some female Senators to join what was then called “Seersucker Thursday” to join the mostly regional, all-male tradition. She recruited 11 of the 14 women in the Senate to participate, and bought them all seersucker outfits. “I would watch the men preening in the Senate,” she told a senate historian, “and I figured we should give them a little bit of a horse race.”
New Orleans-based Haspel is known as the inventor of the seersucker suit. The company made the first men’s suit out of the fabric in 1909.
Last year, Congressional Quarterly’s magazine Roll Call published a list of Trent Lott’s “Seersucker Day Fashion Do’s and Don’ts”, which included an admonishment never to wear seersucker suits with black shoes — advice that many of the politicians pictured above did not heed.